A federal court hearing was canceled Thursday for an alleged gang member accused in the 2014 slayings of a Lake Wylie couple.
Court officials were supposed to conduct a bond hearing for Malcolm Hartley, who is one of six reputed members of the United Blood Nation charged in the deaths of Doug and Deborah London.
But U.S. Magistrate Judge David Cayer told Hartley he could not hold the hearing because a court-appointed defense lawyer declined to take the case. That left Hartley with no legal representation.
Under the law, Cayer said Hartley is entitled to two attorneys because he faces the possibility of the death penalty. One of those attorneys must have experience in capital punishment litigation, Cayer said.
The delay means the court must appoint Hartley a new attorney before May 27 when a new bond hearing is scheduled. Cayer said finding an attorney with experience in death penalty cases makes the process more difficult.
Hartley, 21, and Briana Johnson, 19, who is also accused of taking part in the slayings, both had bond hearings slated for Thursday.
It was not immediately clear why Johnson did not appear in court at the scheduled time. She is in jail, but her name was not called during court proceedings.
Prosecutors accuse Hartley of shooting the Londons. Johnson drove the car to and from the Londons’ home, investigators allege.
Both are charged with murder in the aid of racketeering, use of a firearm during a violent act and conspiracy to participate in racketeering. Hartley is also accused of possession of a firearm by a felon.
A dozen alleged UBN members were indicted in April. A sweep covering two parts of the state saw the FBI and other law enforcement groups arrest them.
An East Coast crime syndicate with a history of violence and other crimes across the Charlotte region, authorities say UBN members tried to robe a mattress store the Londons owned along South Boulevard. Investigators have said the gang killed the couple to prevent Doug London from testifying against them in the robbery.